Used by The Economist, Examiner.com, and thousands of other well-known websites, Drupal is one of the most popular content management systems out there. Powerful and easy to customize, it’s also one of the best CMSs for search engine optimization.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the basics of Drupal SEO, from creating search-friendly page titles and URLs to optimizing your content to attract traffic from Google, Bing, and other search engines.
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Why choose Drupal?
Drupal is one of several open source content management systems available for web designers, bloggers, and marketers. Although it’s less popular than rival WordPress, Drupal offers a variety of benefits for SEOs and online marketers.
For one, Drupal is incredibly powerful and easy to customize. Thousands of plug-ins – both free and paid – are available. Likewise, Drupal’s easy-to-use web interface is more suited to large websites with lots of content than WordPress’s dashboard.
Finally, Drupal is frequently updated and secure, making it a good choice for hacker-conscious webmasters. It’s also remarkably easy to tune for optimum performance, making it a good choice for high-traffic websites and popular blogs.
Would you like to learn more about Drupal? Read our blog post comparing Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress to learn which CMS is the best choice for your new website or blog.
The basics of Drupal SEO
Most SEOs agree that Drupal is the ideal platform for developing search-friendly websites. Thanks to Drupal’s huge community of developers, there are plenty of plug-ins available that make optimizing your website for search simple.
The fundamentals of SEO for Drupal are exactly the same as for any other content management system: use descriptive titles, make sure your URLs include your top search keywords, and keep your content focused, detailed, and specialized.
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The best Drupal SEO modules
Just like you can extend WordPress’s functionality using extensions, you can install modules to add new features to your Drupal website. Modules can be coded by the Drupal community or by individual developers; some are free, and others are paid.
One of the best ways to improve your Drupal website’s search engine optimization is by installing SEO modules. Read on and discover 10 excellent SEO modules that you can install to instantly optimize your Drupal website for search.
Do you need to go over the basics of SEO? The SEO Checklist module lists the most important SEO tasks – from creating good page titles to optimizing your URL paths to include keywords – in a simple to-do list format.
Go through your checklist one task at a time and tick each one off as it’s completed to build an SEO-friendly website. The SEO Checklist module even encourages you to install analytics software to track on-site activity and traffic sources.
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Creating an XML sitemap for your website makes it easier for Google’s search bot to index your website. The more pages Google’s crawler can access, the more visibility your website will have for your target search keywords.
Think of an XML sitemap as a directory for your website – a tree displaying all of the paths to your inner pages. The XML Sitemap module automatically creates a sitemap for Google’s crawler to use, improving your on-page SEO.
Footermap is an excellent module for improving your website’s navigation. It builds a user-friendly sitemap in your footer that visitors – as well as Google’s search bot – can use to navigate your website.
Since search engines tend to value websites with user-friendly navigation more than static, hard-to-navigate websites, having a good footer menu can improve your SEO and help PageRank flow from your homepage to your inner pages.
Do you want a quick analysis of your content? Content Optimizer scans your on-site content to tell you how frequently your target keywords are used, how SEO-friendly your content is, and your average keyword density.
Built using AJAX, Content Optimizer runs smoothly and gives you access to statistics that are usually only found in paid SEO applications. Combined with a killer content marketing strategy, this module will help you rock the search engine results pages.
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Titles are one of the most important aspects of on-page SEO. Page Title is a simple but powerful module that fixes some issues with Drupal’s built-in page title system and offers powerful customization for improving your SEO.
From automatically updating your paginated titles to allowing for simple keyword tokens, Page Title makes optimizing your titles simple. Combine it with the Content Optimizer module for a powerful arsenal of Drupal SEO tools.
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Once you understand the basics of Google Analytics, you’ll be able to identify where your visitors are coming from, why they’re visiting your website, and what they’re doing once they arrive on your pages.
While it’s possible to install Google Analytics in Drupal manually, using the Google Analytics module makes the process far easier. Just copy and paste your website’s code into the module to automatically authorize it for your Analytics account.
Drupal’s default URL paths might be prettier than those generated by WordPress, but they’re still far from optimized. Pathauto lets you create custom URL paths for your website content and choose your own URL aliases for specific pages.
This helps Google and other search engines “theme” your content and work out the key topics of your website. The module uses tokens, which you can easily modify to suit your website’s structure and target search keywords.
One of the biggest issues with vanilla Drupal is its alias system. Although it’s easy to customize your aliases to create clean and descriptive URLs, Drupal keeps both the alias and the old path for pages by default, creating two paths to the same page.
This can cause issues for Google’s search algorithm and result in undeserved search penalties due to duplicate content. GlobalRedirect lets you easily see how your URLs are set up and, if required, create redirects from your ugly paths to your aliases.
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Do you want to “nofollow” links to certain internal pages? Menu Attributes lets you apply custom attributes like rel=”nofollow” to classes, styles, IDs, and other types of content on your website.
This makes it easy to create a coherent internal linking strategy that prioritizes your most important pages. Avoid sending PageRank to unimportant inner pages and use your homepage’s PageRank to optimize the internal pages that really matter.
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Bounce rate, long ignored by SEOs, has become one of the most talked-about metrics in search engine optimization. Search 404 lets you reduce your bounce rate using an internal search to list pages whenever a user encounters a 404 error.
For example, if a user visits a page with a “sports_shoes” URL, Search 404 carries out a custom search for the words “sports shoes” and shows the results to the user. This directs them to useful content and reduces your bounce rate from 404’d links.
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Are you to start optimizing Drupal for search?
With the right combination of content, SEO knowledge, and modules, Drupal is one of the best platforms available for building search-friendly websites. Install the 10 modules listed above and you’ll have no problem building an SEO-friendly website using Drupal as your content management system.
Do you want to learn more about building a website with Drupal? Enroll in Getting to Know Drupal to learn the basics of using Drupal, from adding pages and articles to your website to enabling comments and customizing your website’s design.